Indie film delves beneath ‘Tricks’ of sex trade
> Flick personalizes lives, struggles of prostitutes
On the most obvious level, the title of the movie “Tricks” — a Memphis-made feature film about the “working girls” of the fictional Healing Touch Massage Parlor — refers to prostitutes and their customers.
But writer-director DeAara Lewis says the word also refers to “the illusions that we create to protect ourselves. Turning tricks or playing tricks — there’s trickery on so many levels.”
Lewis’ debut feature, “Tricks” screens at 8 tonight in a “DVD Release Party” at the New Daisy, 330 Beale. Admission is $20, which includes the after-party and a copy of the DVD. (“I got that idea from Prince,” jokes Lewis, referring to the 2004 tour in which the Minneapolis rocker gave a copy of his “Musicology” album to every ticket-holder.)
On the posters and in the credits, the movie’s title includes a period — it’s “Tricks.,” to be precise. Similarly, the release of the DVD puts a period at the end of a years-long journey for Lewis’ film, which was shot in 2006, made its debut at the Indie Memphis Film Festival in 2007, screened at the Hollywood Black Film Festival in 2008 and now comes to disc on the filmmaker’s own Drama Queen Entertainment label.
An ensemble comedy-drama that was shot on digital video for about $15,000, the movie is “an urban tale about five Memphis prostitutes, their enterprising madam and the struggles of each to not only survive but thrive in an industry that is deemed immoral and taboo,” according to the synopsis on the “Tricks” Web site.
Lewis’ presentation of the characters is sympathetic and nonjudgmental. As the movie’s ad-line asks: “Is It Wrong If It Pays the Bills?” Said Lewis, 30, who appears in the film: “This is a story that shows what women, especially mothers, will go through to care for their children and themselves.”
As a member of Memphis’ relatively small but active African-American filmmaking community (another member is Rod Pitts, the editor, cinematographer and associate producer on “Tricks”), Lewis said she has been asked frequently why she made a movie about crime and prostitution — subjects that have fueled many a cliché-ridden “blaxploitation” film.
“Before people see the movie, they ask, ‘Why do we have to talk about the same subject matter?’ But after the movie, they understand. It resonates very strongly among women.”
Even so, Lewis — who works in telecommunications for Memphis City Schools — said her next movies will be very different. She plans to follow “Tricks” with “Who the Hell is Dickie Love?,” a romantic comedy, and “Christina,” a horror movie.
For more information or to order a copy of the DVD, visit tricksmovie.com. The DVD also will be available at Spin Street, 3484 Poplar, and Black Lodge Video, 831 S. Cooper.
Memphian DeAara Lewis is writer and director of the locally produced “Tricks.”